Asia Pacific Theological Encounter Program (APTEP)

APTEP-2012

Interreligious dialogue is one of the main concerns for Jesuits. To confirm what was said in the 32nd congregation of the Society of Jesus (SJ) that no service of faith without promotion of justice, the 34th congregation of SJ added that no service of faith without entry into (other) cultures and without openness to other religious experiences; no promotion of justice without communicating faith, transforming cultures, collaboration with other traditions; no inculturation without communicating faith with others, dialogue with other traditions, commitment to justice; no dialogue without sharing faith with others, evaluating cultures, concern for justice. As such, the 34th of SJ has spelt out four concrete ways of approaching the ministry of dialogue, namely dialogue of experience, dialogue of life, dialogue of action and dialogue of theological exchange. The same emphasis is laid in the 35th congregation of SJ. Thus, from the decree 3 (22), we hear, “We live in a world of many religions and cultures. The erosion of traditional religious beliefs and the tendency to homogenize cultures has strengthened a variety of forms of religious fundamentalism. Faith in God is increasingly being used by some to divide people and communities, to create polarities and tensions which tear at the very fabric of our common social life. All these changes call us to the frontiers of culture and of religion. We need to strengthen and support those Jesuits and collaborators actively involved in the fourfold dialogue recommended by the Church to listen carefully to all, and to build bridges linking individuals and communities of good will.”

St. Ignatius himself, through The Spiritual Exercises (no. 101-102), has called Jesuits to be aware of the great capacity and circuit of the world, in which there are so many and such different people… In line with this, in a decisive manner, Pope Benedict XVI has strongly encouraged Jesuits and their collaborators ‘to recognize the signs of the presence and work of God in every part of the world, even beyond the confines of the visible Church, to build bridges of understanding and dialogue with those who do not belong to the Church or who have difficulty accepting its position and message and to adhere to the word of God and teachings of the church while doing so.’ Indeed, the documents of the second Vatican Council have stressed the importance of dialogue, to other Christians, to Jews, to followers of other religions and to all people. And yet, forty-four years after its close, dialogue remains on the margins of ministry and study as well as spiritual formation. For this, the Jesuits and their collaborators have been encouraged to work out those margins as frontiers. Again, the 35th congregation of SJ says, in the decree 2 (24), “Thus as this world changes, so does the context of our mission; and new frontiers beckon that we must be willing to embrace. So we plunge ourselves more deeply into that dialogue with religions that may show us that the Holy Spirit is at work all over the world that God loves.” In fact, the concerns of the Society of Jesus as developed in the General Congregations of SJ properly correspond to the challenge of the Church in Asia, on the one hand, in relation to the triple dialogue, and on the other hand, with regard to the attempt to develop a contextual theology.

Project

In response to the aforementioned challenges, the Jesuit in the East Asia and Oceania Assistancy has developed a program called ‘East Asia Theological Encounter Program’. The EATEP is developed to meet the need of the young Jesuits from various backgrounds to discuss together and make a theological reflection within the framework of East Asian realities, for a certain definite period, in accompaniment of some tutors. In this moment, the program is set up in Thailand with a specific accent on Buddhism and to a certain degree also on Islam.

In line with this, 18 Indonesian Jesuit scholastics just made an immersion program in an Islamic boarding school (pesantren) for 2 weeks (July 3-17, 2009). The program is, indeed, very positive and successful. Based on this experience, we propose to extend the program to broader scopes, in accordance with the expectation of the Jesuit in the Asia and Oceania Assistancy. We thus set up a program on Islam called APTEP (Asia Pacific Theological Encounter Program). The program is supported by the fact that Indonesia has great diversity, in terms of religion, ethnicity, race, culture, language, etc., and moreover Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. No doubt, the two programs developed among the Jesuit in the Asia and Oceania Assistancy, namely the EATEP on Buddhism in Thailand, and the APTEP on Islam in Indonesia, can complement each other.

Objective

* To respond the call of the 35th congregation for building bridges of understanding and dialogue.

* To respond the challenges of the Catholic Church in an Asian context, in relation to the triple encounter, with the problem of poverty, the pluralism of religions, and the varied of cultures (Synod 1999: No. 5).

* To provide an environment for Jesuit Scholastics to get together and reflect on the matters in the direction of developing a contextual theology. This is done more on the practical level of dialoguing, discussing, exchanging and deepening views, rather than on the theoretical level of gathering information.

Participant

Minimal 10 and maximum 15 participants. They could be Jesuit scholastics or Non-Jesuit seminarians from various Theological Institutes. Those having finished at least one year of theological studies are preferable.

Program

Length

Four weeks

Credit

Credited and integrated into each Faculty’s curriculum. The credits are given by the Graduate Program of Sanata Dharma University

Content

The content is considered as open to Asian Theological issues, with the focus on Islam as it is lived in a particular context like that of Indonesia. In this matter, Islam is seen from different angles as it faces problems of life, modernity, cultures, social developments, etc. The program is thus considered as integral, and not purely theological.

Method

Discussion with Muslim professors and with non-Muslim professors dealing with Islam as well as contextual theology

Lecturer

Guest lecturers from inside/outside Indonesia: Fr. Thomas Michel (IDO), Fr. Dan Madigan (ASL), Fr. Aloysius Mowe (MAS), Fr. Herman Roborgh (ASL), Fr. Albert Alejo (PHI), Fr. Bernard Kieser (IDO), Fr. Franz Magnis-Suseno, SJ (IDO).

Specificity

Live-in and engagement with Muslim students in an Islamic boarding school

The Average Proportion of Time

Reflection from the first sources (Muslim Professors) or the second sources (Non-Muslim Professors)

2 ½ hours

4 weeks

50 hours

Visit to various Islamic institutions

2 hours

4 weeks

40 hours

Discussions & personal studies

2 ½ hours

4 weeks

50 hours

Cultural Programs on Saturday (Palace of Yogyakarta, Kauman, Imogiri, Kotagede, Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan and Borobudur Temples, Mendut Monastery, Muntilan, Ganjuran, etc.)